Editor’s Note: Today, we’re taking a slight detour from our usual blog posts that present information and analysis from our own medical team and staff. Instead, we’re presenting  case study that we recently received from a patient who wants to share his personal journey with our functional medicine and integrative healthcare practice.

Below, in his own words, is Doug’s experience with Long COVID and PROVOKE Health’s founder Dr. Matt Lewis and our team of healthcare providers, including our Medical Director — Dr. Karalynne Blochberger, MD. Next week, we’ll be back to our normal format with a blog featuring Dr. Lewis’ care of plan for Doug and some additional thoughts about treating patients living with Long COVID.

Here then, is Doug’s story in his own words:

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I’m a 63-year-old man, 5 feet 11 inches tall, about 190 pounds, a father, physicist, businessman, preacher, and author. I exercise regularly and am generally in good health with no prior major medical issues except for a previous bout with black mold toxicity from 2010 to 2012.

Long COVID Case Study Graphic

I contracted Covid-19 three times — each about one year apart — in 2021, 2022, and 2023. The first two cases were mild, and I recovered in about a week. The third time, however, the symptoms were more severe. I discovered that I had Covid-19 for the third time on Dec. 20th, 2023. By Jan. 1st, 2024, I thought I was fully recovered. However, two days later I began to experience symptoms that would later be attributed to Long COVID.

My Long COVID Symptoms

Long COVID is a collection of symptoms that last three months or longer after the first symptoms. I experienced the following three severe and debilitating Long COVID symptoms:

  • Extreme fatigue: The word “fatigue” is grossly inadequate to describe how I felt. It was not like fatigue from physical exercise, lack of sleep, or mental exertion. It was much worse. Every cell in my body was exhausted. I felt like I couldn’t do anything at all, that I was dying. Sleep was not restorative at all. For the first month, I could not stay awake; it was not possible. I would sleep 16 hours a night and wake up feeling terrible, as though I hadn’t slept at all. I would drink an entire pot of coffee and eat a huge breakfast in an attempt to re-energize. Caffeine and calories were the only things that gave me energy. I would try to work for about an hour, and then I would fall asleep for two hours. I would wake up, eat lunch, work for an hour, then fall asleep for two more hours. Then I would go out to feed my horses. I could walk, but not much. I could barely walk to the barn to feed them, and a few times I had to get my neighbor to do it.
  • Brain fog: I was unable to think, concentrate, or communicate effectively. Performing my duties as president of a technical instrument manufacturing company was impossible. During the entire month of January, I could answer the phone but found it difficult to speak, and was unable to make reasonable decisions. I stuttered, mumbled, and could barely respond with intelligent answers. My memory was extremely diminished. In the afternoons, I was so impaired that I could not dial my phone. I would pick it up to make a call and could not make my finger do it. That was pretty scary. I was so weak, tired, and mentally depleted that even performing the research necessary to find treatment was extremely difficult.
  • Exercise intolerance: When I first came down with Long COVID symptoms, I read an article about a study done by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) showing that people with Long COVID could not exercise at all. The results showed that when people with Long COVID tried to exercise, they a) had adverse reactions 24 to 72 hours after physical activity, mostly an extreme malaise, and b) developed long-term or permanent muscle damage. I experienced both of those symptoms. One day in late January, I was feeling a little better and it was a nice sunny day, so I went out to sweep the barn floor. I did fine — no adverse reaction — until two days later when I felt absolutely miserable. I was completely bedridden for the next two or three days. I now believe that I have permanent muscle damage in my thighs, just above the knees, from that 10 to15 minutes of sweeping the barn. It is now late April, and they still do not work correctly; walking feels very strange in that area above the knee. A week later I had to unload eight bales of hay out of my truck, and six bags of horse feed. I once again had a terrible reaction about two days later and was bedridden again. Unfortunately, when you have Long COVID, you must be very careful to do nothing physical at all until you are sufficiently recovered. You can do permanent damage even from very light activity. So, you just sleep, and your muscles waste away, but that’s still better than damaging them.

Those symptoms describe the problem I was experiencing. Now for the solution.

My Journey to Effective Long-COVID Treatment

My primary care physician diagnosed me with Long COVID in early January of 2024, but he said he didn’t know how to treat it, that no one understood it, no one knew how to treat it, and it usually lasted six to 24 months. I found this very discouraging. I could not imagine remaining so sick for so long.

He recommended that I join a Long-COVID program at the University of Florida. I consulted another doctor to get a second opinion, and he told me the same thing. So, I contacted the university and was told that they would be happy to take me as a patient and they could get me in on March 18th. I fully expected to be dead by then, so I contacted my estate attorney to make changes to my will, and I asked a friend to take my horses when I die. Then, in desperation, I started researching doctors who claimed to know how to treat Long COVID.

When I finally gathered the strength to get on my computer, I found Dr. Matt Lewis in Tampa, only a two-hour drive from me. That was a Godsend! Dr. Lewis got me in right away, evaluated me, and put me on a very aggressive program of peptide treatments, glutathione, several supplements including B12 injections, a Mediterranean diet, and other interventions. It was quite a detailed regimen with a lot of medication and supplements, but it was exactly what my body needed.

By March 1st, I was 30 percent recovered. By April 1st, I was 60 percent recovered. By April 20th, I was functioning at about 90 percent. So, after almost three months of treatment, I am now almost back to normal. My life has been restored to the point where I can do almost everything I did before, and I’m now gradually rebuilding my body and my mind. I can actually think now, and I have started exercising again and doing great. Three months may seem like a long time to recover, but it is significantly shorter than the prognosis I received from the other doctors. Remaining incapacitated for six to 24 months was unimaginable to me. But now, I am blessed, and doing very well!

If you have Long COVID symptoms, or symptoms of black mold poisoning, please see Dr. Matt! Don’t listen to any doctors who lead you to believe that recovery will take years, that your condition is hopeless, or that your lab results show everything is normal. Dr. Matt can help. He may save your life and restore your quality of life, as he did mine. I cannot thank him enough!

Editor’s Note: Tune in next week to find out more about our treatment regimen from Dr. Matt Lewis himself (see Personalized Long-COVID Treatment: A Case Study – Part Two). In the meantime, if Doug’s story sounds similar to your own story, feel free to contact us to schedule an initial consultation. We’d be happy to help!

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Disclaimer: The information in this blog post about Long-COVID is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect current medical thinking or practices. No information contained in this blog post should be construed as medical advice from Dr. Matthew Lewis, Functional Healthcare Group, PLLC, or PROVOKE Health, nor is this blog post intended to be a substitute for medical counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this blog post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this blog post without seeking the appropriate medical advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a licensed medical professional in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.